11 February 2020

Peru, 11 Years Later: Lake Titicaca

I spent two full days in Lake Titicaca. I did a two-night one-day rural homestay, where I rode a boat, visited the floating islands, and then spent the night with a local family in one of the inhabited islands in the lake. It was a memorable experience.

See, it had a rocky start. I was supposed to be picked up from my hotel at 8:00 AM, yet there seemed to have been transportation issues which made them late by 30 minutes. I thought it wasn't going to happen, but in the end it did. A car picked me up, and took me to the port, where I joined a few other visitors in a boat.

Our first stop was the floating islands, also known as the Uros Islands. These are actually islands that are artificially made, made with reeds (totoras) that are found in the lake. The local population speak either Quechua or Aymara, and have been sticking to their rural lifestyle for ages. In the photos I have above, you can see how these floating islands look like, as well as the typical reed boats that the locals use. We did take a ride in one of those boats, which, I must say, wasn't the fastest. But sometimes, life doesn't need to be fast.

I visited two islands, Taquile and Amantani. We spent the night in Amantani, with a host family. The local population is vegetarian, and the villages on the island have a rotating homestay system: each village had a pre-determined colour of skirt, and we stayed at the village of the women who wear red skirts, because it was their turn. It seems that the women have no choice of skirt colour, and rather, the colour is determined by the village they live in.

During my visit to these two islands, I did a bit of hiking. The island is actually a very steep rock in the middle of the lake. There are peaks on the island that I climbed, with steep and rolling footpaths. I am glad that I spent some time acclimatising in Puno, because otherwise the altitude sickness would have been brutal.

I learned a lot about the local life of these islands. In the pictures above, a local man was demonstrating how they make soap locally, using a native plant.

Life is simple in these islands. During the night, there was a bit of an entertainment. The locals invited us to their town hall, where they performed some music. The visitors were dressed in local attire and we were dancing that night with the locals. It was fun, and even though it wasn't exactly my definition of fun per se, it was nevertheless enjoyable, and I am glad to have seen a sliver of the community's lifestyle.

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